The candidates are vying for a seat as Superior Court Judge for the Conasauga Judicial Circuit which covers Murray and Whitfield Counties.
In opening remarks Judge David Wilbanks said there were four things that voters should look for in a candidate.
“First you look for integrity,” Blevins said. “People that will look you in the eye and tell you the truth. Second is you need to look for moral courage. Moral courage is what takes integrity into tough decisions. Moral courage is what happens when you have a well heeled lawyer from a large law firm, a prestigious law firm that you know has got a lot of influence in the county...and you have a legal aid lawyer, fresh out of law school, shaking in her shoes because she’s up against the best law firm in town but she’s right. And she’s got the law on her side, she wins.
“She wins not because she’s smarter or prettier or powerful, she wins because she is right. And after you get integrity and moral courage and legal ability. Legal ability comes from loving the law and living in the crucible of hard cases. And lastly, you need somebody with judicial demeanor. Judicial demeanor doesn’t mean your grandfather. Judicial demeanor means that when one of your best friends, or somebody you use to practice law with, gets out of line in the courtroom, badly out of line in the courtroom, and he faces a lawyer that you really, really don’t get along with that well, you tell your friend, from the bench...that if he does it again he’s going to jail.
“Because you got to. Because somebody’s life is on the line.”
Blevins said that judicial demeanor is being fair and caring what happens to people. Blevins mentioned a divorce case involving a 14 year old girl.
“Even though you don’t have the perfect solution for her,” Blevins said, “This judge in this courtroom is going to do the absolute best that he can do for her.”
Blevins told the members of the audience to go down to the courthouse and ask the people there that see him do what he does from the bench.
Wilbanks said in his opening statement that basically he believes Murray County should have representation from the bench.
Wilbanks said his parents live in Spring Place in the same house that he was born and raised in and he attended Spring Place Elementary School and graduates Murray County High School in 1977.
“To me, this race is about experience, qualifications,” Wilbanks said. “I was a public defender in Murray County for seven almost eight years, tried murder cases, child molestation cases, any kind of case...resulting in a bunch of criminal cases. My practice has been as a litigator, civil practice, workers compensation claims, personal injury...property damage cases, a lot of domestic cases, divorces, modifications, property line cases, disputes between corporations, disputes between individuals...you name it, I’ve probably been associated with it in one way, shape or another...I did all of that because my goal has always been to be a superior court judge. I always knew that’s what I wanted to be and that’s what I’ve always worked to be...in fourth grade, nine years old I can remember it like it was yesterday...My pathway was set out for that...so I followed that pathway. “
Wilbanks said he had taken all kinds of cases that would come before a superior court judge.
“I also have sought and received over 20 years experience as a judge,” Wilbanks said. “I serve as municipal court judge for Dalton. I currently serve as an associate juvenile judge for the circuit...as appointed by Juvenile Court Judge Connie Blaylock and also approved by the superior court judges. I have served as needed in superior court for over ten years when they would leave for conferences...I also sit for Judge (Jack) Partain who is in charge of the Consauga Drug Court program...I’ve been involved with it sonce the beginning and very proud to have the opportunity to sit with Judge Partain.”
Wilbanks asked the audience to consider his qualifications and experience and said once more that Murray County should have representation on the court.
Ed. Note: This story will continue in next week’s The Chatsworth Times.